Undergraduate travel grant gives students a path toward distant opportunities

Traditionally, Washington State University Vancouver has rewarded travel grants to graduate students who use the grants to conduct research. However, for the past three years WSU Vancouver now offers travel grants to undergraduate students, which are funded by the Students and Activities committee. To receive a travel grant, an undergraduate student must be currently enrolled in at least six credits with a minimum grade point average of at least 2.5 or higher and the student must travel before their anticipated graduation date.

According to Michelle McIlvoy, director of student development, the main difference between undergraduate travel grants and graduate travel grants are the use of the funds. Graduate travel grants are often used for the purpose of research or presenting research at a conference, while undergraduate students often use the travel grants for competitions or to attend a conference. Michelle McIlvoy said, “The undergraduate travel grants were modeled after the graduate travel grants, because the graduate one has been around longer, but they are pretty similar. I would say that the awards for the graduate travel grants have a lot to do with research and students presenting at a conference.”

Students can apply for grants in groups and can receive up to $1500, or up to $500 as an individual. The grants can pay for registration fees, travel, lodging and any other fees for conferences or competitions for undergraduate students. The grants will fund a hotel or a hostel for lodging but exclude personal residences.

According to Peter Collier, vice president of the Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver and chair of the undergraduate travel grant committee, students cannot receive a travel grant if the reason for the travel is course-related. In other words, if the student wanted to receive course credit for the travel or conduct research for a class, then the undergraduate travel grants cannot cover the student’s travel expenses. Collier said that common reasons students apply for undergraduate travel grants are to attend conferences, joining contests and going to leadership development seminars. “A lot of our students here at WSU Vancouver are doing a lot of incredible things and they should be allowed to have the opportunity to show off what they are doing, but also learn who they are and what they can do as leaders of our community.” Collier said when he discussed the purpose of the travel grants.

The engineering club frequently joins competitions that require club members to build a model plane ready for flight. According to McIlvoy, the undergraduate travel grants covers the travel expenses of the engineering club to go to these competitions. In addition to the engineering club’s activities, last year Esmy Farias, Dina Berrisoul, Shain Wright and Cesar Montano received an undergraduate travel grant to go and present at the ‘Power of One’ conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Approximately 10 to 15 students were awarded a travel grant in the previous year.

The application for the undergraduate travel grants is now available at aswsuv.com or on CougSync. When students want to submit an application, they should also submit a letter of support from a WSU Vancouver staff or faculty member that would explain the purpose for travel. The requests for grants are reviewed within two weeks of the application deadline. The student will receive an email if they are awarded a grant. Students with questions about undergraduate travel grants can contact Peter Collier by email at aswsuv.vpres@vancouver.wsu.edu or Michelle McIlvoy at mmcilvoy@vancouver.wsu.edu.

Photo features Esmy Farias, Dina Berrissoul, Shain Wright, Cesar Moreno

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